So, that’s it, the excitement of WrestleMania week is over, and that can mean only one thing – WWE is going to be quite boring for a little. But have no fear, because it won’t be long until summer rolls around and the phrase “Biggest Party of the Summer” becomes more common than a Roman Reigns push in WWE. Yes, I’m talking about SummerSlam, WWE’s second-biggest show of the year; a night of marquee matches, big moments and Brock Lesnar beating the crap out of some part-timers.
With the last few events being a bit hit and miss, this year’s SummerSlam is under a lot of pressure to perform and perform well, but what does WWE need to do to ensure the Barclays Centre is remembered as the site of a great wrestling show in 2017 and not the site of a true crime against entertainment. There are a few obvious answers (no more Jon Stewart, please), but there are also plenty of little matches we could see on this show that could turn SummerSlam 2017 into one of the greatest ever, as well as those matches that have no place on this, or any card. So, with our eyes set firmly to the future, here are 8 matches we need to see at SummerSlam 2017 and 7 we are praying don’t happen.
16 NEED TO SEE: Bayley Vs. Sasha Banks - Raw Women’s Championship
Because Charlotte can't be in a title match on every Pay-Per-View, right?
Bayley won the Raw Women's Championship on Raw earlier this year and has since defended the title at Fastlane and WrestleMania, ending the undefeated Pay-Per-View streak of Charlotte at the former. Similarly, Banks has been on something of a slow heel turn for the past few weeks, interfering in Bayley's matches on her behalf, trying to manipulate her "friend" into giving her a title match. So, I say we do just that.
SummerSlam 2017 will be the two-year (ish) anniversary of one of the best women's matches in WWE history; Bayley vs. Sasha Banks for the NXT Women's Championship. Taking place at TakeOver: Brooklyn, the two women tore the house down in one hell of a match that saw Bayley finally win the big one. So, if these two were allowed to do the same thing, only this time on a much larger stage and with the story of Banks' gradual heel turn thrown in, this could be a potential show-stealer for SummerSlam '17. Also, it gives us a break from Charlotte, and God knows we need one of those.
15 DON'T WANT: A Multi-Cruiserweight Match
Just, just no.
The cruiserweights, like most things in WWE, started out with all the promise in the world. The Cruiserweight Classic that aired over the summer of 2016 was an incredible showcase of pure wrestling, and built some truly likeable characters. Then they were all thrown onto Raw in a big mess and dropped in popularity faster than the viewing figures for Camp WWE. They have regained some popularity in recent weeks thanks to the work of men like Jack Gallagher, Austin Aries and, of course, Neville, but it's still a very fragile division and needs to be treated very carefully if WWE want it to be successful going forward. So it's probably not a good idea to just, I dunno, throw a bunch of random cruiserweights together in a big multi-man match. You know they're thinking about it, you know.
With recent revelations that WWE had planned on putting on a six-cruiserweight tag team match at WrestleMania 33, it's worrying to think that, like with their women's division, WWE might make this a staple of big show. The cruiserweights need to be treated a lot better if they are to grow; feuds need to be built outside of the championship picture and one big match with everyone in it isn't going to solve the problems with the division. Let's just hope WWE realize this before "cruiserweight tag team match" becomes a synonym for "toilet break".
14 NEED TO SEE: Kurt Angle Vs. Samoa Joe
I hope you're enjoying these segues. I quite like them.
It's true, it's damn true - The Olympic Hero, Kurt Angle, has returned to WWE TV as the new Raw General Manager, following the firing of Mick Foley before WrestleMania 33. Angle returning to WWE TV is huge for a number of reasons. Firstly, he is an incredibly popular figure that will make people want to watch Raw again (hopefully). Secondly, it gives him a chance to transfer some of his prestige to the younger talent on the roster. And thirdly, and most excitingly of all, it might lead to Angle making his awaited return to in-ring competition in WWE. Cue uncontrollable excitment.
So, if Angle were to return than the ring, who would it be against? Well, obviously, they would need to be on Raw, as that is where Angle would be based. Also, it would need to be a heel, as there is no way that any crowd be persuaded to boo Kurt freakin' Angle. In my personal opinion, Kurt would do well to have a match against someone he has already faced; Angle isn't getting any younger and, to secure a great match, it might be easier to pit him against someone he has worked with before, just to make it easier on him. This narrows it down immensely; almost everyone whom he faced in WWE is a part-timer now and one of his biggest opponents in TNA - one Mr. AJ Styles - is on SmackDown. So, that only really leaves one man and, thankfully, he's perfect for the job.
Samoa Joe needs a big feud on the main roster to get him over with the more mainstream fans and what bigger feud than against a returning Kurt Angle? Joe could target Angle on behalf of his mentor, Triple H, and the match could be made for SummerSlam in an attempt from Angle to beat some respect into Joe. You know these two would bring the house down and this could create a really interesting story over the summer months. Also, this keeps Kurt away from a match with Triple H, because we all know what happened to the last TNA Hall of Famer who came to WWE and fought Triple H.
12 DON'T WANT: A Multi-Woman Match
Because if history has taught us nothing, it is to expect this.
WWE has a nasty habit of rolling out as many of their female competitors as possible and throwing them in one big match at SummerSlam. In the last two years, we've seen a six-woman tag (which, admittedly did feature the return of Nikki Bella) and that God-awful three-team elimination thing in 2015. Just makes me retch thinking about it.
Since there are now two brands with two Women's titles, there is no way WWE can just bung all of it's female competitors into one big match at this year's SummerSlam. Yes, it's nice to see these women get a payday, but if audiences keep seeing these women in filler matches, then they won't take them seriously when they get put into big matches. It's simple. Good stories, good feuds, female wrestlers, please. And for God's sake, no more teams. Just hearing the letters "PCB" makes me want to hurl.
11 NEED TO SEE: Naomi Vs. Becky Lynch - SmackDown Women’s Championship
See, this would be nice.
Naomi's story in the WWE is one that kinda baffles me. After starting off as one half of "The Funkadactyls", a dancing troupe associated with "The Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay (yes, it was as bad as it sounds), Naomi then showed some signs of promise when she turned heel shortly after WrestleMania 31. However, she then got bogged down in the nonsense of 2015 (Team B.A.D, my goodness) and was also involved in some storylines with her real-life husband, Jimmy Uso (I hope I got the right Uso), so things weren't looking great for Nay-Nay. However, almost out of nowhere, she was thrust into the Women's title picture of SmackDown Live, winning the championship from Alexa Bliss at Elimination Chamber and then again at WrestleMania 33, both to huge applause. So, now she's established as a top babyface on the blue brand, Naomi needs a new challenger and, in my opinion, there can be no better person for this job than a freshly heel Irish Lass Kicker.
Becky Lynch is one of the most talented and well-liked female wrestlers on the SmackDown brand and was the first-ever SmackDown Women's Champion. However, she seems to have run her course as a face and SmackDown is in need of a new top heel. Two birds, meet stone. Lynch could turn heel on Naomi, citing a lack of respect from the fans who no longer see her as the top woman on the blue brand. This could set up an interesting dynamic where both women end up vying for the top spot, only Becky uses underhanded tactics to do so. Also, Becky has been a face ever since she was called up to the main roster, so seeing her turn to the dark side for the first time would certainly freshen things up on Tuesday nights. These two could put on an incredible match and this is a feud that could carry on throughout the summer of 2017. Let's just hope people actually want to boo Becky Lynch. She could kick a puppy to death and I'd still probably cheer her.
10 DON'T WANT: Big Show Vs. Braun Strowman
WEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLL... Braun definitely needs a new feud soon.
Braun Strowman is, somehow, one of my favourite wrestlers right now. His strange mix of power and speed, the intimidating figure he cuts, the fact he's gone from being the guy who couldn't wrestle a two-minute match on his own to one of Raw's top acts, all of this puts me in awe of The Monster Among Men and I'm really rooting for him to do well in WWE. But hey, I'm sure Mojo Rawley will do much better as the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal winner. Sigh.
Strowman and Big Show put on not one, but TWO sleeper hits on Raw, featuring some incredible power moves and a Strowman kip-up — I know! However, to repeat this match on a grander stage (for a 3rd time) with an actual feud behind it would not work. Strowman needs to be put into bigger feuds to cement his status as a rising star on Raw. I think a feud with Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship would best suit Braun, but I’d be happy with anything, as long as it’s not Big Show. Okay, maybe not everything. A feud with Curt Hawkins probably wouldn’t get me that excited, but you know what I mean.
9 NEED TO SEE: Finn Balor Vs. AJ Styles - InterPromotional Match
I guess you could say I’m “gunning” for this match. Poor, poor Bullet Club reference there. I am so sorry.
Despite never being in the same company until 2016, Balor and Styles have a lot in common. They both arrived in WWE fairly late in their careers, they’re both incredibly over with the fans and both led the popular Bullet Club stable in NJPW. Balor might have been the first leader, but this isn’t a competition (it totally is). Balor and Styles have managed to stay reasonably far apart since Finn was called up to the main roster last year, with their only interaction on TV so far being a backstage skit at SummerSlam, in which Styles and Anderson and Gallows tried to persuade Balor to do a “too sweet” with them. He didn’t. Spoilsport. After this, Finn was taken out with an injury and AJ was tearing things up on SmackDown, so the two have remained outside of each other’s radars for quite some time. I think the time has come for that to change, don’t you?
This could be framed as an inter-promotional dream match, with nothing on the line but bragging rights. You could maybe throw in a “winner’s brand gets a free trade” stipulation, but I think this match would work perfectly well without any physical stipulation. Styles and Balor could put on an incredible match and the best part is you wouldn’t even need to derail AJ Styles’ current face turn. Styles and Balor could do battle with honour for their brands and having a good, clean fight between the two would leave fans more than satisfied. Come on, just try and tell me you’re not excited for this. Come on. Just try.
8 DON'T WANT: Brock Lesnar Vs. Shane McMahon
Hey, remember when we all thought this was going to be a WrestleMania match? That was a fun time.
Yes, this “feud,” if you can call it that, actually dates back to last SummerSlam. Following the controversial ending to the main event (and by controversial, I mean Brock actively tried to cave in the skull of Randy Orton), McMahon confronted The Beast over his actions and Brock responded in the rational way – by picking up Shane and F5-ing him onto the bloody canvas. Careful there, Shane. Remember what happened the last time an Orton bled in a match. The plan at the time was to have Brock take on Shane at WrestleMania, but these were nixed when Goldberg agreed to come back and was placed into his programme with Brock instead. I wonder if they’d have let Shane beat Brock in 1:26.
I know Lesnar is the current Universal Champion and the rumour mill is telling me that he’ll be taking on Roman Reigns for that title at WrestleMania 34 (which implies that Brock will reign as champion for a year), but plans may change, thanks to the incredible reception Shane received during his WrestleMania 33 match with AJ Styles. Shane, who, to his credit, had an amazing match with AJ, could be placed back into a feud with Brock, maybe resulting from Shane somehow costing Lesnar the Universal title (Brock could win it back at some point and then take on Reigns). If WWE wanted to do this before, there is every chance they could be planning on trying this feud again, but it just wouldn’t be good.
Shane and AJ’s match at 'Mania was good because McMahon was working with one of the soundest performers in the world. Brock, whilst a big attraction and an amazing athlete, is not a good wrestler in the same way AJ Styles is. He’s good at looking strong and throwing people around, something that wouldn’t work when up against a non-wrestler like Shane. Besides, Brock has his own responsibilities now as world champion, so a novelty feud with Shane would only hurt his reputation. It might work in the future, but just not now. I’m sorry; if 47-year-old dads being suplexed is your kinda thing, then my SummerSlam is not for you people.
7 NEED TO SEE: The Revival Vs. Enzo And Cass - Raw Tag Team Championships
Because yes, so much yes.
Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder, known collectively as The Revival, are my favourite tag team at the moment. Their matches in NXT with the likes of American Alpha, #DIY and Enzo and Cass are all phenomenal and they represent an old-school style of tag team wrestling not really represented in WWE anymore. Also, they look like The Brainbusters, which is always nice.
With the current Raw Tag Team Champions on a part-time deal, it's highly likely we'll see new tag champs soon and what better team to win them than the first ever two-time NXT Tag Team Champions. The Revival could win the tag titles and go into SummerSlam in a feud with, arguable, the most popular babyface team on Raw whose names aren't Matt or Jeff. Enzo Amore and Big Cass taking on the evil Revival could be one hell of a match (just check out their tag title bout at Roadblock 2016) and, if given the right time and feud, could help revitalise the tag team division which has kinda stagnated over the past few months. Speaking of which...
6 DON'T WANT: The Usos Vs. American Alpha - SmackDown Tag Team Championships
Oh, Chad and Jason, what happened to you?
When Chad Gable and Jason Jordan (American Alpha) made the jump from NXT to SmackDown Live after the brand split, people rejoiced at the thought of one of NXT's biggest teams finally getting a chance to showcase their skills on the big stage. Then the SmackDown tag team division sort of collapsed in on itself, right about the time American Alpha became champions. Ah. I can see why this would put people off.
Alpha lost the titles to The Usos mere weeks before WrestleMania 33 and then proceeded to be involved in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal with no fanfare, so, yeah, it's safe to say this feud has thoroughly gone off the boil. If this is the match we get at SummerSlam, then it's clear that SmackDown will have put no effort into their tag team division and it's almost a guarantee than people will have no interest in either team by the summer, which is a real shame, considering both duos are immensely talented. SmackDown need to start pushing teams that have been looked down on in the past (The Ascension, Breezango etc.) if they want to freshen up their tag team division. If not, then the whole "Team Angle V.2" dream that a lot of fans have had for years might just go down the drain. Oh, that reminds me.
5 NEED TO SEE: Roman Reigns Vs. Seth Rollins
Woah, woah, woah, woah, just hear me out, alright? Hey, put that pitchfork down! I see you.
I get it, this match doesn’t sound all that enticing on paper. But it could be just what the doctor ordered to fix one of the most glaring issues in the WWE today. Roman Reigns just retired The Undertaker and that’s something we’re all going to have to live with. He put The Deadman down and now he has all the heat in the world, so there is no better time to turn him heel than right now. Or, at least, this year. Please, WWE, just soon, OK? For ours and Roman’s sake.
The way I’d do it is to put Reigns against someone he knows all too well; former Shield buddy Seth Rollins. This way, Reigns’ heel turn could merge with another storyline; Seth Rollins seeking forgiveness for his acts as a heel. Rollins could go around apologising to everyone he wronged under the guidance of The Authority: Dean Ambrose, Kane, J and J Security (whatever happened to those guys anyway?) and, finally, Roman Reigns, only this time, Reigns doesn’t accept. Reigns and Rollins could then argue over the next few weeks, eventually leading to a match at SummerSlam, in which Rollins tries to win Reigns’ respect through a victory in the match. The two could then put on a classic match, ending with Reigns hitting Rollins with either a low blow or an unseen-foreign object shot to put Rollins away, whilst confirming his heel turn.
Putting the rising heel Reigns against the rising babyface Rollins would be a great way to cement both men’s respective statuses, as well as getting a great match out of the two of them. Also, Dean Ambrose is also on Raw now, so maybe this could be the beginning of another Shield feud. You know, one that isn’t rushed to be over in a month because of the brand split. I’m still upset about that.
4 DON'T WANT: Kevin Owens Vs. Sami Zayn For The United States Championship
Well, you did it, WWE. You’ve made me not care about this feud.
When I heard the news that Kevin Owens had been drafted to SmackDown Live with his United States Championship, I was pleased. Finally, a chance for KO to fight some new people and have new feuds. Then they drafted Sami Zayn with him and my heart sunk. Not this again, please. These two real-life best friends had one hell of a feud in NXT in 2015, doing battle for the NXT Championship on a number of occasions and KO even put Zayn on the shelf (in kayfabe) with an injury. Zayn and Owens continued their rivalry onto the main roster and put on one of the best matches of the year at Battleground 2016 in what deemed their “final battle”. But, as is always the way in WWE, this was a great big lie. Great, first “Once in a Lifetime” and now this.
The two have met on numerous occasions on Raw since this match, which kinda ruins the huge emotional investment fans had in their Battleground encounter. With the two still on the same brand, it is highly likely we’re going to see a lot more of these matches on free TV and, with each one, fans are going to be less and less interested in seeing these two former Ring of Honour stars do battle. WWE might be tempted to try and recreate the past magic of this rivalry by adding Owens’ US title into the mix, but even this wouldn’t work. Fans want something new from both of these men; a new opponent for Zayn to conquer and a new challenger for KO on the blue brand. Whilst I’m in no position to help Mr. Zayn currently, I do have a few ideas for Mr. Owens.
3 NEED TO SEE: Kevin Owens Vs. Tye Dillinger For The United States Championship
Ahh, that’s much more like it.
Tye Dillinger is nothing less than a sensation. From humble beginnings as Stan in that one DX skit at Cyber Sunday 2006 (go back and watch it, it’ll blow your mind) to a short run on the ECW brand as Gavin Spears to finally hitting the big time in NXT, Dillinger now finds himself a permanent fixture on Tuesday nights, having made his main roster debut the SmackDown after WrestleMania. Dillinger’s “Ten” chants have been a mainstay of WWE crowds for months now, which makes it clear that fans like this guy a lot. So, what can WWE do with this white-hot new call-up? Well, if you haven’t figured out where I’m going with this, you should probably get your eyes checked.
Owens vs. Dillinger for the US title just sounds perfect. Dillinger is on fire right now and WWE need to capitalise by giving him a big title feud and Owens needs a fresh opponent and who better than an up-and-coming new star. Also, I can just imagine Owens mocking the “Ten” chant in some hilarious ways and I am all about KO putting people down. It gives me life. Dillinger and Owens could tear up SummerSlam and help put the US title back on the map after it was made pretty redundant in Owens’ last feud with Chris Jericho. Dillinger winning his first main roster championship at such a grand stage would help elevate him to new levels on the main roster and there is no doubt that someone who has paid his dues for as long as Tye has deserves his moment in the spotlight. Just thinking about it, is it bad that I want two Canadians feuding over the United States Championship? Nah, I’m sure it’s fine. I mean, Rusev, Tajiri and Kalisto have all held this title. I don’t think the nationality really matters.
2 DON'T WANT: Shinsuke Nakamura Vs. AJ Styles/John Cena
Before you ask, no, the “/” isn’t something I left in by mistake.
The SmackDown following WrestleMania 33 was notable for a number of reasons, but perhaps none bigger than the appearance of the King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura, on the main roster. After making a huge name for himself in Japan (he’s a three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion), Nakamura arrived in NXT in 2015 and quickly won the NXT Championship at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II (on SummerSlam weekend, no less). Nakamura then won the NXT Championship a second time, before losing it to Bobby Roode at TakeOver: San Antonio, whom he also lost to in the main event of TakeOver: Orlando, his final NXT match. Nakamura is now a mainstay on the blue brand, it seems, opening a number of possibilities for some amazing matches in the future. And that’s exactly how it should be – the distant future.
Look, I wanna see Shinsuke vs. AJ or John as much as anyone else. However, I think to give these matches away at SummerSlam would be a massive waste. Firstly, there isn’t an awful lot of time between now and SummerSlam, so to attempt to build a decent feud between Nakamura and either Styles and Cena, whilst simultaneously trying to establish Nakamura on the main roster wouldn’t be too good in the long run. Secondly, both of these matches are so huge that, in my opinion, they could only happen on the grandest stage of them all – WrestleMania. Nakamura and Cena was a combination I don’t think anyone thought they would ever see, so to give this match away on anything less than the biggest show of the year would be a true crime.
As for AJ, well, their last match took place at Wrestle Kingdom 10, New Japan Pro Wrestling’s version of WrestleMania. So, if WWE were to run this match on anything less than their biggest show wouldn’t really make any sense to me. I want to see both of these matches so badly, but just not at SummerSlam. I know you might hate me for saying this, but don’t you worry, my children, it’ll be worth the wait, I promise. Or, just go and play these matches on WWE 2K17, whatever.
1 NEED TO SEE: The Broken Hardys Vs. The Wyatt Family
Dream match! I knew you’d come!
I know there are an absolutely butt-ton of logistics to work out to make this match happen, but hear me out, okay? Firstly, you’d need to sort out the whole “Broken Hardys” copyright thingy (if you want me to try and explain The Broken Hardys to you, I literally do not have the time). The Hardys are currently embroiled in a legal battle with former employers Impact Wrestling over who owns the characters, but WWE has the legal equivalent of John Cena behind them, whilst TNA’s lawyers are probably more of a James Ellsworth, so expect the Broken Hardys to be on WWE fairly soon. Secondly, The Wyatt Family is currently all over the place; L:uke Harper has turned face, Strowman has his own thing going on and Bray and Erick Rowan just got split up by the Superstar Shake-up. Dammit, Vince, why must you mess with my fantasy booking?
Okay, so I’m in a tight spot here, but I’ll do my best. Here’s what I’d do. The Hardys lose the Raw Tag Team titles (see my earlier paragraph), but they do so through interference from Bray Wyatt. Wyatt says he can “fix” the Broken Hardys and cost them the tag titles when they refused his help. Matt and Jeff then set about trying to get Payback on Bray, who recruits a former Family member, Braun Strowman, to have his back. The match is made for SummerSlam – Bray and Braun vs. The Hardy Boyz. Only, this is no ordinary match. The action can start in the ring, but, just like what happened with The Hardys and Decay at Bound For Glory 2016, the action spills out of the ring and we get a “Final Deletion” style match, filled with special effects, clever camerawork and all the lunacy we’ve come to expect from The Broken Hardys.
The combination of The Hardys’ and The Wyatts’ magical powers would open up all sorts of doors in this match and we could have run-ins from the likes of Erick Rowan (on the side of The Wyatts) and Luke Harper (on the side of The Hardys). Just imagine what could happens if the creativity of Matt Hardy met the budget of WWE; if done right, this could be the Final Deletion on steroids, a truly revolutionary match that would not only serve long-time fans of The Broken Universe, but also introduce a brand-new audience to the absolutely DELIGHTFUL world of Broken Matt and Brother Nero. Or they could just have a compound match. Oh no.